Being on top of your game doesn't end when you exit the confines of your local range. Perfection is a pursuit that involves dedication and a willingness to adopt a lifestyle. These three things have been a part of my daily routine for most of my life.
1. Weapons Handling
Reinforce your essentials as much as you can. Dry firing is one of the most important practices a shooter at any level should do. Focus on the repetition. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or if you're a seasoned pro, you will benefit from this. A lot of people know that this is a crucial part to their advancement as a shooter but most never do it OR they do the drills but lack the right amount of intensity.
The hardest part about dry firing is not the movements, it's actually the set up:
- Ensure your gun and mags are free of ammunition
- Declare and prepare your targets
- Put on your holster / mag pouch setup
Decide how long you will dry fire for and make it realistic. 10 - 30 minute sessions are easy commitments and they'll help you break down your practice session in a way that's scaleable.
Here's an example of a 15 minute dry fire exercise:
5 minutes of draws
5 minutes of single reload
5 minutes of multiple reloads
Within each of these drills, start slow and work on perfection FIRST and then gradually speed up to performing each drill as fast as you can without any mistakes. Challenge yourself to perform 10 draws in a row as fast or as smooth as you can without fumbling before moving on to the next drill. If you slip anywhere before 10, start over.
The goal here is to make it routine so when it's time to shoot at the range or in a competition, there is no need to cloud your mind with something as simple as a draw, rather you can put more focus on your foot movement, shooting positions and target positions.
2. Physical Fitness
A regular fitness schedule will make you more agile and stable and build confidence on your movement. Anyone can benefit from a more explosive push from one shooting position to the next. If you have a tight and strong core, it could translate to a faster transition from target to target.
My focus during these exercises are for two things:
- Explosive movements (speed)
- Endurance (mental strength and focus)
The program that I have been using is the CrossFit/ High Intensity Training (HIT) type work outs. Here is the reason why I have become such a believer in these type of work outs / programs, I just shot my first major match of the year and besides shooting well I felt my movements were very solid and it translated to a much more steady sight picture when shooting on the move or coming into and out of position. It was even more gratifying to hear my father who studies all of my shooting videos to comment about my movements and how fast and steady they looked.
For more info on CrossFit / High Intensity Training, here's a link: http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/what-is-crossfit.html
3. Gear / Equipment Preparation
There is no better way to acquaint yourself with your setup and preferences as a shooter than performing regular checkups on all of your essential equipment. Look over each little part and watch for any burrs, cracks, springs that need to be changed. You should know your setup better than anyone else. It's yours. The last thing you want is to be fully prepared for a match and have your tool fail on you. Talking from experience, that is the most frustrating thing to ever experience in a match.
Here are a few things that should be considered doing before a major match:
- Chamber check all ammo
- Go through every bullet and look for any anomalies
- Check the zero of your gun
- Check all the screws on your scope
- Clean magazines
When you do this routinely enough, you will know your equipment, notice any changes, and recognize anomalies quickly.
To see more shooting tips from JJ, check out Season 1 of Armscor Nation: On The Range.